Legal Cannabis Week #9
Pot consultant bidder's conference
This afternoon the aroma was sweet in downtown Tacoma as the Washington State Liquor Control Board held a public meeting to answer questions about the state's search for a cannabis consultant. Nearly one hundred people showed up to learn about the bidding process.
Though a few attendees were rooted in industries unrelated to cannabis, most were "industry professionals" in some fashion — attorneys, testing companies, producers, trade groups, etc. I made a few observations:
- California in the house. I counted at least four potential bidder groups from the golden state. At least one person came from Montana.
- Ooh ooh, pick me. Many folks want to be one component of a bid. They don't have a team to fill the necessary roles, and they don't want to be in charge of putting together such a team. Some specifically marketed their services to any bendable ear.
- Conflicts of interest are conflicting. An inordinate number of questions regarded the winning bidder's inability to be a licensee or to profit from potential licensees for the duration of the contract. People want to be involved in cannabis business, and the realization that those helping regulate this nascent industry are legally prohibited from doing that gave some folks pause.
- Some folks stayed briefly. At least two dozen people left during the meeting. I imagined most of them concluded that they had no real shot at completing or winning this bid process, or realized that this meeting was not about getting a pot license.
- Even naysayers want in on the action. The meanest anti-502 leaders have been notably absent from the public hearings, but I was excited to see the most notable anti-502 campaigner from outside the state, Ed Rosenthal, who is part of a California team bidding on the RFP.
Gene Johnson threw something up on the AP wire.
Overflow crowds pack Seattle public forum
The liquor board's second cannabis public forum was held at Seattle City Hall last Thursday. The room was three times larger than the previous room, and so was the crowd. After the room hit capacity, attendees were diverted upstairs to city council chambers to watch the hearing on television.
Speakers said the same things speakers said at the Olympia forum. In fact, many of the speakers had already testified at the previous hearing — pot activists used to signing up whenever a speaking opportunity presents itself, new trade group representatives promoting their brands, and kooky old weed heads. Four times now we have listened to John what's-his-name, the hash king of the seventies.
That last one got a bit tiresome, but I still absolutely love hearing pot people speak at these forums. What great theater this new reality. To review, here is a summary of last week's distillation of hearing #1:
- More licenses preferred. Protect small growers.
- Banking is a primary hurdle.
- Don't leave out cannabis convicts.
- Protect licensee information from the feds.
- Taxes will drive costs too high.
- Strive to eliminate the "black market."
- Protect or co-opt the medical marijuana industry.
Bill to create marijuana DUI for boaters
On January 30, seven senators introduced SB 5437 to outlaw cannabis use while operating a boat. The bill has six sections:
- Section 1 adds cannabis to the existing boat DUI law.
- Section 2 creates a new class 1 civil infraction for refusing to submit to breath, blood or field sobriety tests related to a boat DUI.
- Section 3 sets the fine for this new civil infraction at $500 — twice the standard fine for class 1 civil infractions.
- Section 4 allows police to arrest parties involved in boating accidents if they suspect a "boating safety law or rule" was broken.
- Section 5 creates requirements for vessels for hire.
- Section 6 rewords a section about liability when a non-owner is operating a boat.
The bill was referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
Medical cannabis bill hearing Monday
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles is dropping a medical cannabis bill this week. The bill will go to the Senate Health Care and Wellness Committee with a public hearing scheduled on Monday, February 4 at 10 a.m. in the Cherberg Building Senate Hearing Room 4. The bill would:
- Add definitions and fix critical language wrecked by the partial veto of ESSB 5073 last year
- Remove restrictions on health care professionals engaging in "cross marketing" business with dispensaries
- Provide arrest protection for patients with medical cannabis authorizations
- Require the Liquor Control Board to study the feasibility of a state-issued medical cannabis card and report back by December 1, 2013
Legislative weed watch
- Currently unfiled medical cannabis legislation from Sen. Kohl-Welles will be heard in the Senate Health Care Committee this Monday, February 4 at 10 a.m.
- SJM 8000 requests that the federal government reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug. It is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee this Monday, February 4 at 10 a.m.
- SB 5010 disallows probationers the legal cannabis protections of I-502. On January 30 the Senate Law and Justice Committee recommended passing the bill with an exemption for medical cannabis authorizations unless DOC determines they don't want the offender using pot. Hearing video from TVW, skip to 1:23:00.
- SB 5437 creates a new marijuana DUI for boaters. On January 30 it was referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
- SB 5222 directs Washington State University to study industrial hemp. On January 29 the Senate Agriculture Committee heard testimony on the bill.
- SB-5279 disallows medical cannabis purchases with EBT cards. On January 24 it was referred to the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.
- HB 1051 disallows state transportation facilities to be named after a handful of things, including anything pot-related. On January 22 it had a hearing in the House Transportation Committee.
- HB 1084 seeks to clean up the medical cannabis catastrophe of the 2012 session. It was referred to House Health Care and Wellness on January 18.
Week in review
The national lobby group American Herbal Products Association announced recommended guidelines for states regulating medical cannabis, following two years of work with Americans for Safe Access.
WSLCB Chair Sharon Foster answered questions about I-502 implentation.
Investors advised by The Arcview Group heard pitches from pot entrepreneurs on the same day the National Cannabis Industry Association met in Seattle.
The City of Seattle re-created my zoning maps. I coulda made 'em a better one for wicked cheap.
Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36) advocated for a 2/3 legislative vote to amend I-502, calling the license fees "ridiculously low" and fearing "a failure to capture the revenue value of marijuana."
California NORML hosted its annual conference, and the consensus seems to be a huge legalization push in 2016.
I-502 quarterback Alison Holcomb — smoke a bowl! — thinks pot delivery is allowed under I-502 as long as its paid for over the phone.
Governor Jay Inslee vowed to find ways to keep our ganja in state, and Colorado medical cannabis regulators warned that theirs is "a model of regulatory overreach."
The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee received a briefing on I-502 implementation from the Liquor Control Board's Pat Kohler. This is the committee chaired by Rep. Christ Hurst (D-31), who is advocating for a 2/3 vote to amend I-502 and who claims to be the "point person" on cannabis issues in the House.
The federal DEA says legalization will hurt marijuana prohibition.
The City of Bridgeport will likely consider a six-month cannabis moratorium at its February 13 meeting.